Tahlequah Daily Press

Features

October 3, 2012

Experts: Bats provide ecological balance

TAHLEQUAH — Most people associate bats with Halloween or some other blood-curdling portrayal.

According to experts, though, the reality is we need more bats in the area.

October is Bat Appreciation Month, and without these often misunderstood creatures of the night, life could be even more frightening, said Northeastern State University Associate Biology Professor Dr. Erik Terdal.

“Bats eat many insects every night, including insects that are crop pests or that transmit diseases. Really, life would be expensive, dangerous and unpleasant without healthy bat populations,” he said. “There are no downsides to having bats in the area, although many people fear for them no reason.”

Chiroptophobia is what is known as the fear of bats, according to the Discovery Channel’s HowStuffWorks.com. The only mammal capable of flight has been depicted by Hollywood as a bloodsucker that arrives to deliver death and disease. There are three species of bats in Latin America whose source of food is found in the blood of animals like birds, horses and pigs, but human blood isn’t usually on the menu.

People also fear bats due to the belief the creatures carry rabies, but a 2011 study conducted by the University of Calgary revealed that less than one percent of the average bat population carries the viral disease.

Blood-sucking bats, or the common vampire bat, hairy-legged vampire bat or the white-winged vampire bat, do not call Cherokee County home, much less any state in the union. Terdal said the vespertilio myotis of the diverse and extensive breed of bats within the vespertilionidae family is the county’s most prevalent creature of the night.

“Most of the bats in Cherokee County are the small, mouse-eared bats. There are a few different kinds, and they look similar,” he said. “Another common bat is the big brown bat. There are several bat species in total in Cherokee County.They live here because of the good habitat: caves to roost in and hibernate, and plenty of insects to eat.”

And in comparison to the purple martin, bats eat more insects than the North American swallow, said Cherokee County Extension Office Agriculture Educator Roger Williams.

“I don’t know anything real specific about the bats in the area, but I do know they’re good and they catch more insects than purple martins,” he said. “I’ve heard of bats getting into people’s homes and getting into the attic. You just have to have a little opening for them to get in, and it costs a bunch to get them eradicated when that happens.”

According to the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, all bats living in Oklahoma feed on insects like moths, mosquitoes, cucumber/June beetles, leafhoppers and scorpions.

Bats are noted as the only major predator of these night-flying insects with some eating more than 3,000 mosquitoes each night.

Oklahoma has 22 species of bats; several are migratory and leave the state for nesting, or winter hibernation, according to the ODWC.

“The Cherokee County bats hibernate in the caves,” said Terdal. “In western Oklahoma, there is another bat species, the Mexican free-tailed bat, that migrates to the tropics for the winter, then fly back in the spring.”

Fall is mating season for bats in the state, and the females are currently readying themselves for the delayed fertilization state of the spring birthing process, said Terdal.

“This is one of the fascinating things about bats. The bats mate in the fall as they gather in caves to hibernate. Females store sperm and use it to fertilize their eggs in late winter,” he said. “So, the baby bats are born in the spring. That is the best time, as there are many insects available then for the mothers to eat. They use the insect energy to make milk for their babies.”

Though bats can present a useful purpose, serious bat population declines have been observed in the state by research scientists in recent years, according to the ODWC. Loss of habitat fromthings like surface-mining operations or cave commercialization, vandals needlessly killing and disturbing bats in materinty caves and during hibernation and bats consuming insects sprayed with agricultural pesticides have been identified as the three main causes for the decline. The Indiana, gray and Ozark big-eared bats are now on the federal list of endangered species.

“The most important thing people in Cherokee County can do to help bats is to leave their caves alone,” said Terdal. “Do not go in them, especially in the fall when bats are mating, in the winter when they are hibernating and in the spring when the young are being born.”

Bat houses, which can be placed at the top of a pole similar to a bird house, can be constructed to help support and protect the species.

A successul bat house, according to the ODWC, depends on many factors. In Oklahoma, a bat house must be located a quarter mile or less from a stream, river or pond larger than three acres. It must receive no more or less than four hours of daily sun.  

 

To see the complete version of this article, subscribe to the Daily Press e-edition by following the link below.

Click here to get the entire Tahlequah Daily Press delivered every day to your home or office.

Click here to get a free trial or to subscribe to the Tahlequah Daily Press electronic edition. It's the ENTIRE newspaper (without the paper) for your computer, iPad or e-reader.

1
Text Only
Features
  • 20th-Amendment.jpg Inauguration day changed by 20th Amendment

    Sometimes an amendment is added to the U.S. Constitution that is uncontroversial and virtually unlitigated.
    Such is the 20th Amendment, which moved the seating of the new Congress and the presidential inauguration day to January, and enumerates procedure if a president-elect dies or cannot take office.
    Because the “Lame-Duck Amendment” addresses procedure, it is long.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • rf-School-Fashion.jpg Fashion show to feature local teachers

    A fun fashion event that will provide funds for one lucky area school is coming up next weekend.
    Local teachers and students have until Tuesday, July 22, to sign up for the Teacher and Student Back 2 School Fashion Show at Arrowhead Mall in Muskogee.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • rf-actress.jpg TV’s ‘Mistresses’ has second local tie

    Tahlequah has at least two ties to the TV drama “Mistresses.”
    Local florist Josh Cottrell-Mannon designed the flower arrangements for the show’s season finale, and Arriane Alexander, daughter of local resident Sharilyn Young, is portraying a television news reporter.

    July 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • rf-Stark-Sequoyah.jpg Stark enjoys making a difference

    Kristin Stark, Sequoyah Elementary Teacher of Year, loves teaching, and has a desire to make a positive difference in the lives of children.
    “I love making a difference in the lives of children; it is a wonderful feeling to make a positive impact on a child,” said Stark.

    July 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • sr-19thAmendment.jpg Women got the vote with 19th Amendment

    During its first 140 years, the United States Constitution underwent a series of changes intended to extend voting rights to those who were not white or didn’t own property - but as the American experiment entered the 20th Century, half the adult population still had no protection to vote.
    Though they certainly had political opinions, women could not cast a ballot in most states. That changed with passage of the 19th Amendment.

    July 13, 2014 1 Photo

  • renee-storyteller.jpg Cherokee, Tlingit storytellers to share their craft during special NSU event

    Two Native American cultures will be represented during a storytelling workshop featuring Cherokee Gayle Ross and Tlingit and Cherokee dancer and storyteller Gene Tagaban, of Seattle.

    July 10, 2014 1 Photo

  • 1-ts CN opt 1.jpg Cherokees commemorate Act of Union

    Cherokee Nation dignitaries met on the historic courthouse square Tuesday to commemorate the 175th anniversary of the Act of Union following the end of the Trail of Tears Removal.

    July 9, 2014 1 Photo

  • rf-vol-July.jpg Firefighting fills a big role for Kimble

    Community service is both work and volunteering for Cherokee County 911 Coordinator/Director Marty A. Kimble.
    Kimble is also fire chief for Gideon Volunteer Fire and Rescue, president of the Grand View School Board, and northeast regional vice president of OklaNENA (National Emergency Number Association).

    July 8, 2014 1 Photo

  • rf-artist-July-2.jpg Fulk discovered art talent after retirement

    It’s not unusual for retired folks to turn their hand to the arts. Count George Fulk among that number.
    The former optometry professor at Northeastern State University and bird-watching enthusiast has found he also has a talent for watercolor painting.

    July 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • de-Sewing-Ruth-Kennedy.jpg OHCE members have ‘sew’ much fun

    Sewing machines were buzzing and conversation was flowing at the Oklahoma Home and Community Education Woodall Club’s quarterly workshop last week.
    The group assembled was working on placemat notebook organizers, made from regular table placemats.

    June 30, 2014 1 Photo

Poll

Do you believe marijuana should be legalized in Oklahoma?

Absolutely not.
No, but it should be decriminalized.
Yes, but only for medicinal purposes.
Yes, both for medicinal and recreational purposes.
Undecided.
     View Results
Tahlequah Daily Press Twitter
Follow us on twitter
AP Video
Raw: Israel Bombs Multiple Targets in Gaza Veteran Creates Job During High Unemployment Raw: Cargo Craft Undocks From Space Station Widow: Jury Sent Big Tobacco a $23B Message New Orleans Plans to Recycle Cigarette Butts UN Security Council Calls for MH 17 Crash Probe Obama Bestows Medal of Honor on NH Veteran Texas Sending National Guard Troops to Border Hopkins to Pay $190M After Pelvic Exams Taped Foxx Cites Washington 'Circus Mirror' NASA Ceremony Honors Moon Walker Neil Armstrong Obama Voices Concern About Casualties in Mideast Diplomacy Intensifies Amid Mounting Gaza Toll AP Exclusive: American Beaten in Israel Speaks Obama Protects Gay, Transgender Workers Raw: Gaza Rescuers Search Rubble for Survivors Raw: International Team Inspects MH17 Bodies Raw: 25 Family Members Killed in Gaza Airstrike US Teen Beaten in Mideast Talks About Ordeal 'Weird Al' Is Wowed by Album's Success
Stocks